Sanity – Tools to preserve
Of course, you know better than I what activities will help you pass the time at your recovery venues while guarding your sanity against the boredom assault. The topics in this section are certainly not a complete list and clearly tend toward the geek side. They are just activities that I like and a few tips on how to make them workable as I sit around with my foot up in the air.
No surprise here. Connectivity and access to information help keep me happy. The question is how?
Your old desk and PC
I have an office desk with a desktop PC as my primary computer at home, but I can’t keep my leg properly elevated at the desk, so the office is not one of my recovery venues. I had to find a different way to get on-line.
Sitting at her desk and using her desktop PC has worked during my Wife’s recovery … different surgery and different post-op needs allow different solutions. If you can use your desk, great.
The Wired or wireless Internet connection:
I have pulled hundreds of feet of Cat-5 and -6 cable in the attic and behind the drywall in my home, but it never occurred to me to install an RJ-41 jack beside my lift chair nor at my bedside. In addition, you do not need any extra cables lurking between the wall and your laptop, just waiting to jump up and tangle your one good leg and two crutches. Connecting to the Internet with copper really was not a viable solution for us.
Go wireless. Use Wi-Fi for your connectivity. No surprises in this revelation; you probably already have Wi-Fi.
However, there are a few things you should do pre-op:
- If you aren’t wireless yet, get it. Buy the equipment and install it. Ask your tech-savvy kids for advice on what you need and how to install and set up.
- Test the system! Make sure everything works, and works well, at every location where you expect use it during recovery. Definitely check the service at each of your recovery venues: chair, bed, desk, sofa, etc. Also, test in the rest of your house. Who knows where you might want to spend a little time over the next few weeks? The guest bedroom? The kitchen? Now is the time to see if you have any problems and fix them before your surgery.
- If any of your hardware requires batteries (not common for Wi-Fi, but possible):
- Buy several spare sets of batteries.
- Start off with a fresh set; install a new set of batteries now, before the current ones fail.
- Store the other spare sets of batteries close to your recovery venues. You don’t want to be hobbling long distances looking for AA’s three weeks from now.
The appliance: Laptop, iPad or other tablet, smart phone, etc.
- Laptop: I have a swell laptop. (Am I allowed to use that adjective with “laptop”?) It has a nearly full-sized keyboard and a good-sized screen. These two features are important to me if I am going to spend many hours of recovery at this machine.
- Lap desk: I missed this item in my preparations before surgery. I prefer to use a wireless mouse with the laptop instead of the built-in touch pad. A mouse needs a surface on which to run. The laptop is also a bit heavy and uncomfortable when used resting directly on my legs for long hours. I have ordered (online, of course) a lap desk to address these problems. I chose a model with a large, flat, wood work surface and a couple cushions/pads on the underside. I’ll let you know how I like it after it comes.
- UPDATE: The lap desk arrived and it does make it easier for me to use the laptop while sitting in the lift chair. It actually would be perfect if I was sitting in a more upright position. When I’m fully reclined, the lap desk is sloped toward me and the laptop tends to slowly slide down the desk surface until it’s too close. The mouse does the same thing, just faster. Neither the desk top nor the laptops underside are very slippery, the slope is just too steep.
- To stabilize the laptop, I put a small piece of rubber, waffle texture drawer liner material between the laptop and the desk. It works well to grab both items and keep them in their assigned positions.
- For the mouse, I think I’ll try small pieces of self adhesive velcro, hooks at the high side of the lap desk and a small fuzz piece stuck to the bottom of the mouse. The pieces need to be small so they don’t interfere with the mouse operation. I just need enough stickiness to keep the mouse parked and yet be easy to pull of and move. I’ll let you know.
- iPad, or similar tablet: My generous Wife lets me use her iPad often and I like it. It is great for browsing and we have the version with cellular data access, so it is perfect on the road. The on-screen keyboard is easier to use than I expected, but I’m a ten-fingered qwerty kind of typist and using it to write this blog would be frustrating, I think. Great tool. Not my first choice to accessorize my cast.
- Smart phone: Sorry, no particular experience with these, so I can’t help you. My phone is rather stupid. Hey, I even talk to people on my phone … not sure the new ones allow that. (Sorry, TGA*)
I love to read. With a nod to the geek theme of this blog:
- eBook readers:
- They look great, lots of people use them and love them, I don’t have one so I do not have any brand or model recommendations
- However, if you use one during recovery:
- Make sure you have extra batteries or charging capability where you will be using the reader
- Test your online connectivity at each recovery venue to make sure you can download new content, if desired
- Books: Not so geeky, but …
- The batteries rarely go bad
- The GUI is intuitive to use
- The book’s Users’ Manual is almost always shorter than the instruction manual for any of your electronic devices.
Not that I recommend eight solid weeks of online shopping, but if you want to purchase and download a new eBook or need to order a lap desk, you will need credit card information, user login name, and password information for your accounts.
Remember to keep all this information safe and secure, just like you should already be doing on your desk PC! This includes securing your Wi-Fi network. Use the search engines for security advice and recommendations. This is a much larger topic than I can cover adequately here.
*TGA: Transient Geezer Attack. Symptoms: Turrets-like utterances, typically including references to “… knee-deep snow.” Recommended treatment: Usually well controlled with modest doses of coffee and frequent modern technology update lectures from our granddaughters.